Addressing the first Harvard Africa Action Forum in Accra, Ghana recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reiterates that creating jobs is not just an economic priority, but matter of national security on the African continent.
President Sirleaf stresses that the continent is young and hungry for opportunity with over 65 percent of its population under 35, an age group that should be at work to propel a brighter future not only for itself but generations unborn.
“Without economic opportunity underscoring the clear dividends of peace and democracy, a desperate youth population can become a destabilizing force rather than an asset. Without opportunity at home, a desperate population will move elsewhere in search of hope, exacerbating migration flows, which have led to a devastating humanitarian crisis around the world”, she further stresses.
We can never agree with the Liberian leader any better than this, because she says it all. For example, Liberia, with a similar youth population percentage is grappling with the embarrassing reality of unemployed youth who roam our streets daily, walloping in idleness.
This is one of the many socio-economic challenges that the Sirleaf administration has been unable to address fully despite several expressed commitments by her government in its two terms of office. Be as it may, she truly understands that the situation poses serious security threat.
With lack of functional skills, the plight of young people both here and elsewhere in Africa, portray a bleak future for the continent. When the next generation that is to be entrusted with leadership is academically and technically bankrupt, Africa would never attain its full potential.
And we think these are some of the issues that politicians vying for leadership in Liberia and generally on the continent should bring to the table. Candidates here should tell Liberian electorate how they intend to create jobs for our young people, who are being exploited thru campaign T-shirts and party posters.
The youths are in search of leaders who can give them hope for a better tomorrow as we go to these elections in October. We are not talking about false hope and promises, but genuinely substantive programs that they can hold on to as they go to the ballot box on 10 October to cast their votes.
A recent television documentary on Japan aired on Multitv, a Ghanaian satellite television, showed kids below 12 years assembling toy robots and other electronic gadgets for the market. Ten or twenty from now, those kids would no doubt grow up and become some of the best in the technology industry of Japan and dare say, the rest of the world, if not an understatement.
We strongly believe that this is one of the ways to creating jobs for young people by engaging them at an early age. Creating a conducive environment and providing those necessary learning tools for the youth would go a long way in not just preparing them for future leadership, but also build a firm foundation for security and economic stability both in Liberia and the entire Africa.